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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

Our gospel lesson for today is the story of Doubting Thomas. Many of us are familiar with the story and i’m sure we can relate to the doubts that Thomas has in this particular story. In the evening of that first Easter Day, the risen Lord appeared to his disciples, but Thomas was not with them. When the other disciples tell him that they have seen the Lord, Thomas says, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later the risen Lord appears to his disciples again, but this time Thomas is with them. Jesus tells him to see his hands and to touch his side. And Thomas responds by saying, “My Lord and my God.” When Thomas sees the risen Christ he says, “My Lord and my God.” It is more than simply a matter of historical knowledge. Rather, it is about the transformation of Thomas’ whole life, because in the risen Christ, in his wounds, he sees his Lord and his God, who is there for him and for his salvation. How many times do we doubt people things and in particular god and his great love for us? How many times do we say to ourselves Father I believe help my unbelief.  Let us remember that god our Father loves us where we are with the doubts in faith that we have. Through our faith he helps us to get through all the various things including the doubts that our belief in Jesus brings to all of us at some time or other during our lives  so that along with Thomas we are able to say MY LORD AND MY GOD I BELIEVE IN YOU.

Today is also Divine mercy Sunday It comes as an opportunity to celebrate the mercy of God shown to us in our own time by Saint Faustina who was made a saint by Blessed John Paul. In the Old Testament, mercy was something that had to be begged from God. In the New Testament it is given without having been even asked for. The mercy of Jesus was not giveneveryone but Jesus did not merely “show” mercy he was merciful, towards everyone whom he met who wanted to receive it. In the last days especially, he was merciful towards those who, would show him none. We should not forget Good Friday and the Cross. This is often the paradox of being merciful the burden and test of mercy. For being merciful often involves our own suffering. It may mean not only giving what we have, but giving ourselves that as so many including myself have learned can be very hard indeed but once this has been done once it gets so much easier. We often look upon the example of the mercy of Jesus with little or no imagination with fear and caution, too afraid to see and take those first bold steps of mercy that the gospel and our faith call us to, instead we prefer to tread the old familiar ground. It takes determination to make this mercy of God more than a show of words. It takes the effort of long days and hard work. Mercy is not just shown in the demeanour of your face, in a gesture of the hand—it is done, it is work and it is hard work. It took some imagination on Jesus’ part when he pro­nounced the fifth beatitude to his hearers in Galilee when he told them:

 “How blest are those who show mercy;

mercy shall be shown to them”.

This was a bold act of confidence on his part.”Show mercy, and you will receive mercy,

This seems like such an ordinary and bland precept, hardly far-fetched. But of all the beatitudes, it is the most difficult to achieve. It really takes confidence to show mercy not merely once in a while. Rather it takes confidence and love to be merciful, all of the time —to seek out occasions of mercy, to take the initiative, be inventive and creative, in our mercy filled outlook on life and living, it is not always easy to convince ourselves that we are the merciful kind. Usually we like to think of ourselves as being rational, clear-headed, and reasonable about the situations we might find ourselves in. We like to think that people get their “just desserts,” because that way everything evens out. It does not take much imagination to see that this was not the attitude of Jesus. He raised his hand against no one. And he found ways, every day in a vast desert land with few villages and a small, widespread population to show what his mercy was. The world is so much bigger now and yet we have not yet figured out what it means to show mercy, to be merciful to one another.  We must be careful to recognize the needs of all the various people we come across and not be harsh, supercilious, or whatever. The mercy that we will be shown will be the mercy that we will have shared with others.  On this Divine Mercy Sunday let us not be afraid to show the Mercy of God to those we meet as we go along the roads of our lives and daily living.

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